Vaccines partly funded by UK taxpayer will be exported to EU –

Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP, a former Conservative Party leader, said that in the event of any delay in manufacturing, the UK’s order should be prioritised.

“The number one purpose of the Government’s support is to ensure full, timely supply of the vaccine,” he said.

“The test is, will the company be able to fulfil its obligation of full and timely supply?

“The UK’s demand and requirement, as they were the ones that funded it, should come ahead of anybody else.”

As the NHS races to protect the most vulnerable Britons before the spring, the Prime Minister has said the supply of vaccines is the limiting factor preventing a faster rollout.

Since mid-October all three of the company’s suites have been running at full 1,000 litre capacity, but a spokeswoman was unable to disclose how many batches or doses have been made so far.

A senior government source said Oxford/AstraZeneca had so far fulfilled the vaccine delivery schedule in its contract, but suggested delays had been created by a requirement for batches of the jab to be tested by the MHRA before being administered.

If the vaccine delivery schedule is not met, the Government can sue the company and demand its contract is prioritised.